Photo Credit: www.desmoinesregister.com
High School Rugby Tournaments, as well as winter and summer camps and clinics, are continuing to grow as the best places to be recruited by a college rugby coach. Top elite spring and summer tournaments attract the cream of the crop, meaning that a big chunk of the nation’s top talent can be found in one place a few weekends throughout the year. You better believe the college coaches follow close behind, not wanting to let such a convenient opportunity to scout players go to waste. However, even though the fields are often crawling with college coaches and professional scouts, it can be difficult for players to stand out in the crowd amongst the hundreds of other players present at some of these tournaments.
Here are five ways to set yourself apart:
Let Them Know You Are Coming — Unless you are a 7’ lock or run a 4.3 40m, it’s going to be tough to grab the attention of anyone out of the blue. Therefore, it’s critical you let coaches know you will be there. In your communication, make sure to include what team you are playing on, your position, and your coaches’ contact info as well. If you have a schedule, go ahead and send that as well. If you see college coaches from programs you are interested in on the sideline, go ahead and introduce yourself.
Say Hello! - So, you've let coaches know you will be at an upcoming tournament. You see him/her on the sidelines - now what do you do? You'd be surprised how many students get hit with a case of stage fright and turn the other way. Now is not the time to be shy! Remember that coaches want to meet you as much as you want to meet them. Make time to approach coaches and introduce yourself. If you have already sent all the pertinent information ahead of time, that will also make this in-person intro easier on you. A simple "Hello! My name is Susie Smith, I sent you an email last week and I just wanted to make sure to introduce myself in person. How are you doing? I'll be playing next on Field 3 at 3:00p, I hope you can watch me play!"
Hustle/Work Rate/Off-The-Ball Play — Did you know?: The average time the rugby ball is in play during a match is less than 30 minutes.* This means that the majority of the time you will NOT have the ball in your hand, meaning that coaches will spend most of the time watching what you are doing “off the ball.” Did you make a tackle and get right up to hit the next ruck? Or, did you lay there for an extra few seconds to catch your breath? The amount of hustle, high-work rate, and off-the-ball play are areas that definitively separate the good players from the great players.
Character – This is becoming more of a critical factor when it comes to recruitment. Typically when things are not going a player’s way is when I will see poor character come out (e.g. if you make a mistake or if you don’t start). If this happens to you, remember: coaches are watching! Don’t scream at the referees or your teammates, be supportive and a positive person on your team. All college coaches want someone who will add good character to their team!
Wear Something That Identifies You – When there are so many players at a recruit camp or tournament—many who can look alike—you need to find a way to stand out and help coaches and selectors remember who you are. At a recent camp, I always recognized one player because when he wasn’t playing he always wore a bright, neon yellow t-shirt with a specific mascot on it. It reflected his unique personality and while it had nothing to do with his play, it certainly helped me remember who he was. Obviously, this is at the discretion of your team and coaches, but try to think of ways you can help yourself stand out on or off the pitch. For some cool gear that will make you stand out, check out Booshie’s full line of unique apparel for all ruggers!
*Stat was taken from http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/09/03/how-long-is-a-rugby-match-really/
EIRA on the run at Las Vegas Invitational Photo Credit: David Barpal/ Goff Rugby Report